What Silicon Valley Can Teach Feds About Innovation

Brittany Ballenstedt | Nextgov | September 21, 2012

Wired Workplace spent the day in Silicon Valley on Thursday checking out the work spaces and work cultures of some of the nation’s most innovative companies, like Facebook, IDEO and Kaiser Permanente. I’ll have more on my visits next week, but I wanted to share a few of the key things I learned that I think are important for federal agencies:

The work culture in Silicon Valley is completely different than what most federal employees are used to, and it’s going to take at least some level of culture change for government to attract and retain these highly-skilled workers and perhaps come up with more innovative ways of solving challenges. Young employees in particular are looking for work spaces that facilitate collaboration, and so many of these top companies have created collaborative spaces that are functional for employees – with wheeled tables, chairs and whiteboards that can easily be rearranged. Companies like Facebook also have created lounge areas in spaces where employees often cross paths. The Office of Personnel Management visited these three companies and several others in Silicon Valley in deciding how to design OPM's innovation lab, which it hopes will bring a more collaborative, innovative culture to the agency and its employees.